Woman accuses delegate of fraud

Dispute over home leads to lawsuit naming McConkey

October 24, 2006|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,sun reporter

A state delegate was sued yesterday for allegedly tricking a Pasadena woman into signing over her house to him in violation of a homeowners protection law that he voted for when it passed the General Assembly in 2005.

Del. Tony McConkey, a Severna Park Republican, is accused of committing "foreclosure rescue fraud," according to the suit filed in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. Earlier this month, McConkey began eviction proceedings against Teresa Milligan, who claims that she was unaware that she possibly no longer owned her home.

"I felt like he was there to help me," said Milligan, 42. "He did save the house, but I guess he saved it for himself. He didn't save it for me"

Reached yesterday, McConkey said that he moved to evict Milligan - who lives with her 16-year-old daughter and 8-month-old grandchild - because she did not pay rent.

"She's lying," he said when asked about the accusations of fraud. He said that he followed the "letter of the law" when dealing with Milligan and purchasing her home, and has the documents to prove it.

"This seems like a desperate plea to stop the eviction," said McConkey.

Experts said that foreclosure rescue fraud essentially involves a desperate homeowner facing foreclosure who, either knowingly or unwittingly, signs over the deed to a home. The result is that the homeowner loses equity while the "foreclosure consultant" benefits financially. The homeowner often is then kicked out of the home he believes that he still owns.

The suit alleges that McConkey engaged in "fraud and criminal conduct" by misleading Milligan about her options, improperly advising her to dismiss her bankruptcy, even though she already had an attorney and McConkey had been disbarred, and serving as her real estate agent while he was seeking to benefit by buying the property. The suit also alleges that the signature on the deed transferring ownership of the property is not Milligan's.

Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, declined to comment on the case, referring questions to county police.

"I cannot discuss an active police investigation," Riggin said.

A county police spokesman could not be reached for comment yesterday evening.

The topic is politically sensitive, coming two weeks before the Nov. 7 election. McConkey is up for re-election and one of his challengers is Democrat Patricia Weathersbee, the wife of the state's attorney.

McConkey, 42, has represented central Anne Arundel County in the legislature since 2003. The suit is not the first time that he has been accused of wrongdoing in real estate. In 1995, he agreed to be disbarred as a lawyer after a failed real estate deal in Prince George's County in the late 1980s. He acknowledged that he "failed to maintain and account for funds entrusted to me."

He also had his real estate license revoked but later had it reinstated.

Milligan, 42, said in an interview that she was out of work, bankrupt, and facing foreclosure on the townhouse she's lived in since 1997, when she was approached by McConkey. Her home was to be sold at a foreclosure auction Jan. 6.

She was desperate, she said, when McConkey knocked on her door, offering to help her keep her home from foreclosure and save her equity days before the scheduled auction.

The offer: He would pay $18,200, as a loan, to save her home from foreclosure, Milligan said. Then he would purchase Milligan's home for $160,000. She would stay in the home, renting it from McConkey for $900 a month, with an option to repurchase it later.

At the time, the home, in the 1100 block of Hunter Court West in Pasadena, had a fair market value of $243,000, according to the lawsuit. The balance of Milligan's mortgage was $116,000.

Initially, Milligan agreed to the sale, she said, but changed her mind within a few days. She was concerned she couldn't afford the monthly rent, which was more than her mortgage payment, the suit says.

She accepted McConkey's offer of $18,200 to pay the arrearages, but decided to sell her home. That way, Milligan believed, once the home was sold McConkey would get the money owed to him, plus commission, and she'd still have some equity, roughly $50,000, to find a place to live.

McConkey listed the home, with his name as the agent and Milligan as the owner, according to real estate listings filed with the lawsuit. But after three unsuccessful attempts to sell the home, both McConkey and Milligan were unhappy, she said.

Milligan wanted a new agent. McConkey told her that they would go back to the original plan - that McConkey would purchase the home from her. She said that when she did not agree, McConkey told her that it was too late, that he already owned the house.

The next day, she went to the land records office and found a deed to her house, signed by her, McConkey and a notary public. It was dated Jan. 3, but wasn't filed until Sept. 25.

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